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The importance of having a product mindset

The importance of having a product mindset

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What do people mean when they talk about a ‘Product Mindset’? You may automatically assume this is only relevant to Product Managers and tech teams. But the principles can apply to, and benefit, any team or function within a company.

Let’s discuss what we mean by a Product Mindset and how to apply it within your own business.

Branching out

Product Managers are always looking outside.

A key aspect of having a Product Mindset is that one seeks to gain knowledge from outside our own experiences and assumptions. This is because outside perspectives can help shape a balanced view of the truth, prove or disprove hypotheses and expose us to multiple fields of thought and opinion.

You can apply this approach within any team, it’s certainly not limited to Product and Technology teams. In traditional Waterfall type businesses, there’s often a great deal of value placed on linear functions within the business. This leads to people working in silos, sticking to their own remit of knowledge and experience and operating in a very insular way.

The problem is that this can create a very one-dimensional output, that’s often influenced by preconceived ideas, biases and assumptions. When you apply a Product Mindset that seeks to bring outside knowledge and experience in, you’ll naturally create a more collaborative environment and end up with a well researched, unbiased end result.

Prove your value

When you’re developing a new concept or process, do you prefer to wait until it’s perfectly honed before you show it to anyone?

It’s understandable - why would you want to risk getting negative feedback on something that’s a work in progress? In fact, negative feedback is a welcome friend when you have a Product Mindset. It’s what helps determine whether you’re on the right track and how the end result will be received by your audience.

Speed to market is everything, but you don’t need everything to be perfect to get there. Use the principles of a minimum viable product (MVP) to agree on the simplest workable version of your product, process or service and share that with your audience as soon as possible.

In some cases, even some rough sketches of your ideas or proposed approach can help you get feedback or buy-in at the earliest possible stage of your project. The goal here is to get input from your audience as soon as possible to make sure what you’re creating is fit for purpose and that each aspect will deliver value.

Focus on needs, not features

The truth is, a lot of Product Managers don’t necessarily know loads about technology or digital engineering. Great Product people are always focused on the needs, objectives, pain points and challenges of their audience.

They’ll keep asking questions and gaining insight to understand the core wants of their audience before any technology is discussed. The tech part is just an enabler.

This approach works within any team or department. Stay curious, keep asking why, test your opinions and assumptions on real people and stay focused on your audience, even if it’s internal. With this mindset, you’ll create processes, concepts, experiences or products that are genuinely useful. If you need to use technology to unlock the potential of your audience, then work with tech whizzes to make that happen - you don’t need to do it all yourself!

People over projects

With a Product Mindset, you’ll see the value of a whole team, rather than the efforts of each individual.

Shared accountability means that everyone has a voice at the start of a project and everyone shares the successes (or learnings) at the end. This is hugely motivating and can remove the toxic blame cultures that sometimes characterise large or traditional enterprise businesses.

Naturally, everyone has a role and remit, they’ll focus on the bits they’re good at. But these bits are only valuable when they’re used in conjunction with the value of other team members - collaboration is power.

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